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Woody Paige: Broncos will figure out which kind of Rebel hot-tempered QB Chad Kelly is

May 2, 2017 Updated: May 2, 2017 at 8:32 pm
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photo - FILE - Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly (10) manages to make a pass as he is hit by Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (3) in the first half of their NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
FILE - Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly (10) manages to make a pass as he is hit by Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith (3) in the first half of their NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, in Oxford, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) 

If I had one day when I didn't have to be all confused, and I didn't have to feel that I was ashamed of everything. If I felt that I belonged some place. - James Dean in "Rebel Without A Cause"

Ole Miss, which already had beaten Alabama and Auburn in 2015, was in a tight game with LSU in the third quarter and had possession at the Bayou Bengals' 11-yard line.

The quarterback rolled right and ran to the 2, where he was blasted brutally between two defenders and then flew, heels over helmet, into the end zone.

Chad Kelly's touchdown, which led to a 38-17 victory, was eerily similar to John Elway's "Helicopter Play" in Super Bowl XXXII.

Scooba, Miss., is not in the middle of nowhere, but it's almost there. (I once passed through town). The rural community (population 700) adjacent to railroad tracks and highway crossroads is 56 miles from Mississippi State, 72 miles from the University of Alabama.

Scooba is home to East Mississippi Community College.

The school was called "Last Chance U" in a Netflix documentary last year because its football program accepts underachievers, reprobates, dropouts from major schools and players who have nowhere else, but the middle of nowhere, to go.

"Swag" Kelly, who had been atop the college football world as Clemson's No. 1 quarterback in the spring of 2014, fell from grace. Other universities didn't want him. Kelly called EMCC coach Buddy Stephens, who essentially told the troubled quarterback: "This is the last chance for you."

Kelly became Scooba Dooba Do in 2014. The Lions' king passed for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns as EMCC won 12 games and the national junior college championship.

Four days after the season, he signed with the University of Mississippi, 140 miles away in Oxford, with a stern warning from coach Hugh Freeze. Just days later, Kelly was ordered out of a bar in Buffalo and threatened to get an assault rifle and kill everyone. Ole Miss took him, anyway.

Kelly went from Scooba, playing in front of a few thousand, to the Sugar Bowl before 72,117 and was named the game's MVP - the first from Ole Miss since Archie Manning in 1970.

Kelly had resurrected his career and dream of being drafted as an NFL quarterback.

The Rebels' Archie Manning was drafted No. 2 overall in 1971, and son Eli Manning was drafted No. 1 in 2004.

The Rebel Chad Kelly was drafted last (253) in 2017.

Kelly's circuitous quest to the Broncos has been Gulliver-like, obstructed by his own conduct, conceit, contempt, wayward wanderings and injuries. All, ultimately, plummeted him to the draft's nether region - until the Broncos gave Kelly one more last chance.

The 6-foot-1 3/4, 228-pound, 23-year-old Kelly was born in Niagara Falls, N.Y. He's the son of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly's younger brother Kevin (and mother Charlene). As a youth playing football, basketball and lacrosse, Chad was a pure athlete. Kevin, a grocery chain manager, was transferred to Red Lion, Pa. As a freshman, Chad was suspended from the football team for seven games, reportedly for drinking, and suspended from the lacrosse team for fighting. His sophomore year, Kelly got into an argument with a teacher, and was voted off the football team by the other players.

The family returned to Buffalo, and in Chad's senior season, he was considered the nation's fourth-best college quarterback prospect. He chose Clemson, redshirted as a freshman and tore his ACL in spring practice. He played backup the next season, and tweeted that he was better than the starter.

Then, during the spring game, Kelly verbally sparred with Dabo Swinney over the coach's decision to punt. The next day Kelly was kicked off the team for "detrimental conduct."

After his sensational first season at Ole Miss, Kelly was categorized as a potential first- or second-round pick. During the Rebels' bye week, he returned to Buffalo and got involved in a brawl at his younger brother's game.

Last year Ole Miss struggled, and Kelly was finished Nov. 5 with a torn meniscus and a torn ACL.

Kelly was banned from the NFL combine because of his transgressions. Despite the knee injuries, Kelly decided to throw at the Ole Miss Pro Day. After 12 passes, he quit with a wrist problem that required surgery.

And for two nights of the draft, Kelly slept on the floor of his parents' basement. When the 250th selection was announced, he stomped out of the room.

However, then came the call from Elway. Chad Kelly was "Mr. Irrelevant," a title that didn't seem possible after his irreverent past.

The Broncos eventually will find out if Kelly is A Rebel With A Cause, or The Rebel Without A Clue.

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